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Rescue Army seeing more families in need of holiday assistance; reduction of donations

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Despite being in the early stages of the holiday season, the Rescue Army has begun to see the taxes that the COVID-19 pandemic is taking on families and their gift-giving plans.

As of Wednesday, the nonprofit has over 350 families registered to participate in its Angel Tree gift program from 325 in 2019, said Lieutenant Randy Stokes, Corps Officer with the Salvation Army in Greeley.

With a couple of days left to enroll in the program, Stokes expects that number to continue to grow.

The numbers are growing. We were not surprised, but it is still shocking to see so many new families, Stokes said. Weve had plenty of new families enrolled in our program who never thought they would have to ask for help for Christmas.

COVID has changed a lot, he added.

GREELEY, CO – NOVEMBER 18: Lieutenant Randy Stokes speaks with the Greeley Tribune for the 35th Annual Willies Toy at the Greeley Salvation Army on November 18, 2020. (Alex McIntyre / Photography Staff)

The Angel Tree program allows community members to help brighten up children’s holidays by purchasing gifts listed on a label. People interested in participating in the program can choose a label that represents a boy or girl of different ages from newborns to 12 years old, buy as many gifts on the list as you like and then bring them gifts at a participating business or at the Greeley Salvation Army Office.

Businesses interested in participating in the Angel Tree program can contact Stokes for some gift request labels or purchase a variety of gift gifts.

Most companies that call will receive labels for their employees and they all buy gifts on labels, Stokes said. They offer so many different gifts. So we hope and plan for them not to be affected by this and they fill our labels again.

Angle Trees with disposable labels are located at various businesses around Greeley including the Walmart store at 920 47th Ave., Moose Lodge at 3456 11th Ave. at Evans and Planet Fitness, 2640 11th Ave.

According to the nonprofit website, the pandemic has also reduced the number of red bins the community is used to seeing outside stores across the US.

The Greeley Rescue Army provides gifts to hundreds of children in the community during the holidays. (Photo by Greeley Tribune)

Collection efforts can see up to a 50% drop on the website, due to consumers holding less money and coins, more people deciding to buy gifts through online stores, higher unemployment rates and closures of brick and mortar shops.

You have what they give, but you have those vulnerable age groups that are staying inside. Their food is being distributed, they will stay even longer, Stokes said. They are the ones who have the stories of their parents in World War II and the Salvation Army helping them. They are not out and giving as usual.

The nonprofit launched its national red bins campaign on Nov. 13 outside the Hobby Lobby. More bells and red bins will be on display at local Walmart and King Soopers stores in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

A bell rings outside Safeway in Greeley collecting donations for the Salvation Army. (Photo by Greeley Tribune)

However, if COVID-19 case numbers continue to rise, the bell will not be allowed to stay out of stores, Stokes explained.

The nonprofit launched an online Red Boiler donation campaign called Rescue Christmas to help raise money for the Angle Tree program.

In a week and a half of online programming we are at $ 10 from our $ 40,000 goal, Stokes said. So the need is great.

Despite diving into donations, the Salvation Army is determined to meet the community’s need and will spend now and find the money later to provide the children with a gift to open on Christmas Day.

For more information on the Salvation Armys Angel Tree program, or to donate toys or money, go to www.greeley.salvationarmy.org or call (970) 346-1661.

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